Monday, May 23, 2016

Assorted Thoughts on the DNC Platform Committee

The DNC has released its platform committee, and the big news is that Senator Sanders successfully got near-parity with the Clinton campaign (he got five appointees, Clinton got six, and the DNC, through chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, picked four). Some assorted thoughts (in no particular order):

* Both Clinton and Sanders picked a Congressperson who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Sanders picked Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) and Clinton Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL). But interestingly enough, the most progressive elected official on the whole committee is probably a DWS pick. That would be my Congresswoman here in Berkeley, Rep. Barbara Lee.

* Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) is a great choice as chair. Universally respected by all factions in the Democratic Party. That doesn't mean I envy him.

* Who is Alicia Reece, and why is an Ohio state representative getting a slot? I'm hoping the answer is "because she's a rising star in Democratic politics and in ten years everyone will think this was a stupid question."

* I presume there is already some murmuring in pro-Israel corners about Sanders picking Arab American Institute head James Zogby to be on the committee. I don't think there is any cause for concern, and I'm in fact optimistic that he will help the committee produce language that instantiates the vision for Israel and Palestine that is shared by most Democrats (as well as most Jews): Two states for two people, respecting the democratic and national rights of each. Zogby is a pro, I doubt he would produce anything objectionable even if he were writing the language himself (which he isn't). None of this will stop some elements of the "pro-Israel" community from releasing commentary about Zogby's selection that will double as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

* There is a real, non-trivial chance that Cornel West will be a catastrophe in this role. Remember that time he called "Brother Trump" an "authentic human being" (like "Brother Bernie" but unlike all the other candidates)? Or the time he called Obama our "first niggerized black president"? These do not speak of someone interested in the good of the Democratic Party or, quite frankly, the good of the progressive movement writ large. Most of the people on this committee I'm sure will do a good and conscientious job to produce a good document that represents Democratic Party principles and aids the nominee tasked with implementing them. West I can absolutely see deciding to make a grandstanding show that could detonate the whole endeavor.

* Both Clinton and Sanders have a committed environmentalist on their slate, but it's interesting that Clinton's put on the only union representative on the Committee (Paul Booth, of AFSCME).

* Gender breakdown is as follows: Clinton -- four women, two men. Sanders -- four men, one woman. DWS -- two men, two women.

* All of this being said, by far the most likely outcome is that this is essentially the last time we ever hear anything about the platform committee or its work ever again.

No comments: